I remember how, in my teens, I’d make terrariums out of any old jars I could find. I took one over to Frank’s flower shop–it had mosses and some wild violets in bloom–and he told me what a good job I’d done and that I had a talent for flowers. All I could think about was that everyone knew he was gay, and that I didn’t want anyone thinking that about me, and decided that I could never work with flowers the way that he did. And now I think of how much I have always loved gardening and growing plants, and how it could have been a career I might have been very good at.
And how awful to have been taught to feel such shame that I not only suppressed my own identity, but circumscribed my relationship with a potential friend and mentor.